U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) published the following op-ed on Courier-Journal.com:
“When President Trump delivers his State of the Union address, he will have outstanding news to share. After a decade of sluggish growth and stagnant paychecks, our country is back on the right track. Optimism is sweeping across the country, and the economy is finally gaining momentum.
“The Trump administration has worked with the Republican Congress to improve the lives of the American people. While liberal Washington Democrats have obstructed the president’s agenda at every turn to satisfy the far-left, Republicans have remained focused on the issues important to middle-class families and workers.
“In a once-in-a-generation effort, the Republican-led Congress passed comprehensive tax reform legislation last year helping middle-class families, small businesses and workers keep more of their hard-earned money. In other words, we took money out of Washington’s pocket and put it back in the pockets of the middle-class families who earned it. The historic tax law also repealed Obamacare’s unpopular individual mandate tax, which disproportionally impacted low- and middle-income families by forcing them to purchase health insurance plans they often didn’t want or couldn’t afford.
“Almost immediately, American businesses began sharing their historic tax benefits with their employees. Already, hundreds of companies — large and small — have announced special bonuses, higher wages, retirement savings contributions and other benefits for their workforces thanks to tax reform. Major corporations like Walmart, Home Depot, Verizon, Disney and Starbucks are sharing the benefits of tax reform. American businesses have also announced plans to build new facilities in America, buy more American products and create more American jobs.
“Locally, Fifth Third Bank and U.S. Bank will deliver bonuses and raise the minimum hourly wage for many employees as a result of tax reform. Humana, employing more than 12,000 Kentuckians, recently announced it is accelerating pay incentives and increasing its minimum hourly wage. Brown Forman — a global spirits company in Louisville employing more than 1,000 Kentuckians — is starting a community investment foundation and committing $120 million to fund pensions. And many small businesses, like an event equipment rental business in Nicholasville, Kentucky, expect to now be able to purchase new capital inventory and hire additional employees. These types of announcements are happening around the country — and they keep coming.
“The Senate has also prioritized confirming talented judges to the federal bench, beginning with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. In fact, we confirmed a record 12 circuit court judges last year — including two Kentuckians. That’s the most circuit court confirmations in a president’s first year in office since the creation of the circuit courts in 1891. It will continue to be a top priority in 2018.
“After years of stifling overreach, Congress and the White House delivered regulatory relief by helping reverse Obama-era regulations, which devastated coal communities, like those in Kentucky. We repealed a wide range of burdensome regulations, from rules that were harmful to coal families to regulations on how teachers prepare their curriculums to a rule forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood.
“Already, 2018 has seen important successes for those who need it most. Congress passed the longest extension in the history of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage to more than 9 million children from low-income families, including several thousand children in Kentucky. At the same time, Congress delayed unpopular Obamacare taxes. Also, Congress reauthorized one of the most important tools used by our national security community to combat terrorism and keep Americans safe. And President Trump signed legislation to help stop the flow of opioids from entering this country, building upon years of progress and comprehensive action including prevention, enforcement and treatment.
“In his address, President Trump will lay out his legislative agenda. Part of that plan is a much-anticipated infrastructure proposal. Our network of roads, bridges, airports and waterways is critical to nearly every segment of our economy, and working with the administration, we can develop a bipartisan plan to help businesses get their products to consumers and help all of us travel more safely and efficiently.
“The Senate will also continue bipartisan discussions about fixing our broken immigration system. Last year, President Trump asked us to try to address President Obama’s unlawfully established program for illegal immigrants who were brought here as children called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). I hope that ongoing negotiations will lead to results that address DACA, border security and other related immigration issues. We will also continue bipartisan budget negotiations on important priorities, including adequate defense funding for our servicemembers as Defense Secretary Mattis leads the efforts to rebuild our great military.
“During the State of the Union, President Trump can herald the many accomplishments of his first year in office and lay out his vision for the second. As he discusses the strong state of our union, I will be proud to stand up and applaud.”